Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News from the week of March 10, 2008

Energy Secretary Envisions 20% Wind

Clean Energy Bank Proposed: Domenici Backs Tech Investment

Judge Threatens Audience Evictions at Westchester Nuclear Hearing

NY Senators Demand More Indian Point Hearings After Audio Woes

Court Rejects Challenge to Nuclear Waste Storage

Utah State Board Rejects Import of Italian Nuclear Waste

Southern Utah Developer Builds Zero-Energy Houses

Nuclear Reactors' Cost: $17 Billion

NRC Announces Opportunity To Request Hearing On License Renewal Application For Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant

SC Utility Rebate Available For Solar Panels

Renewable Energy Continues Rapid Global Growth in 2007

Report Places Even Odds on Hoover Dam Running Dry by 2017

Senate Advances Bill Calling for Vt. Yankee Inspection

Matheson Moves to Block Foreign Nuclear Waste

Settlement Over Diablo Nuke Plant Generator Replacement

Energy Secretary Envisions 20% Wind

- Mar 10, 2008 (Wind Energy Weekly)

Pointing to the dramatic achievements of the wind energy industry as an indication that the world is moving toward a cleaner energy future, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman expressed a vision for wind to provide 20% or more of the nation's generation capacity.

Bodman addressed attendees of the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference on March 4. "In 2007, the United States installed 5,240 MW of new wind power, a 45% increase over 2006," said Bodman. "The U.S. has had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world for the last three years in a row, and is anticipated to resume its position as the world leader of total installed wind capacity by the end of 2009."

Thanks in large part to wind power, said Bodman, "[R]enewable energy sources accounted for 30% of all new nameplate electricity capacity additions in the U.S. in 2007-up from just 2% in 2004. And we envision a future where wind supplies 20% or more of our total national generating capacity."

Bodman said such numbers confirm that federal policy supporting renewable energy is having an impact and underscored the need for even more "predictable and durable policies that enable greater private investment." That statement resonated with the wind industry, which is urging Congress to quickly pass an extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which expires at the end of the year, so that the industry can operate in a stable policy environment. Bodman, however, did not specifically reference the PTC, instead following the remark with a mention of the $38 million in loan guarantees the Department of Energy is arranging over the next three years primarily to support the next generation of nuclear plants or other technologies that sequester or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

"This whole set of global energy challenges grows more acute with time," said Bodman. "But I'm confident that we will meet them. And, even more than that, I'm optimistic that they represent a major opportunity for the world. Because just as the components of the problem are all too clear today, the components of the solution are also coming into focus-and more so everyday."

Clean Energy Bank Proposed: Domenici Backs Tech Investment
- Michael Coleman Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
-Mar 7, 2008 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News)

Sen. Pete Domenici wants to put more federal financial muscle behind new clean energy technology, and he has proposed a U.S. Clean Energy Investment Bank to do it.

Domenici, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bill Thursday that would create a bank structured similar to the U.S. Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

The clean energy bank would focus solely on spurring U.S. clean energy technology investment. It would take over the Department of Energy's existing loan guarantee program, which has been criticized for not issuing loans fast enough.

The new federal bank would have the ability to issue loans, loan guarantees, equity investments and insurance products.

During a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Domenici said renewable energy entrepreneurs need the solid financial footing the government could provide.

"Unlike traditional fossil energy projects, which are able to more easily secure long-term debt financing, clean energy markets have a greater level of risk both commercially and technically," Domenici said. "That is why the certainty provided by federal government support would be

The bill has been referred to the Senate energy committee for a hearing.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Democratic chairman of the energy committee, is intrigued by the idea of a clean energy bank but wants to know more before committing to it, an aide said.

"Sen. Bingaman thinks this is an interesting idea," said Jude McCartin, the senator's press secretary. "He'd like to learn more about the particulars of the legislation and looks forward to having further discussions with Sen. Domenici about it."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Given Domenici's support for nuclear power, it would not be a surprise this will be the funding source for that technology intransitional economy nations like Namibia.


Judge Threatens Audience Evictions at Westchester Nuclear Hearing
By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press Writer
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Mar 10, 2008 (The Associated Press)

An administrative judge at a federal hearing on the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants has refused to make arrangements that would allow the public and the news media to clearly hear testimony.

The judge also threatened to evict anyone who questioned his decision on Monday.

Lawrence McDade, chairman of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board and one of three judges at the hearing in Westchester County, told those present: "The next time somebody in the audience speaks out, we will ask them to be removed from the facility."

He made the remark after Michael Kaplowitz, a Westchester County legislator, complained from the courtroom's gallery.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said it was the judge's call, but he hoped something could be done to make testimony audible.


NY Senators Demand More Indian Point Hearings After Audio Woes
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Mar 11, 2008 (The Associated Press)

New York's two senators and four other members of Congress are demanding a do-over of an Indian Point nuclear power plant hearing that was nearly inaudible to the public.

The first several hours of a hearing Monday on new licenses for Indian Point were conducted without microphones for most of the participants, and the presiding judge threatened to evict anyone who complained. Additional microphones were installed later.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's chief administrative judge, Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Reps. Nita Lowey, John Hall, Maurice Hinchey and Eliot Engel say Monday's events cast doubt on the commitment to an open process. They want another day of hearings.

The NRC hasn't commented.


Court Rejects Challenge to Nuclear Waste Storage plan
By STEPHEN SINGER Associated Press Writer
HARTFORD, Conn. - Mar 10, 2008 (The Associated Press)

The state Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling allowing the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford to build onsite storage units for spent radioactive fuel rods.

The justices ruled unanimously that a New Britain Superior Court judge properly dismissed a legal challenge by Nancy Burton and William Honan, members of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone who sued to overturn a decision by the Connecticut Siting Council.

The Siting Council had granted a certificate allowing Dominion Nuclear Connecticut Inc. to build the storage facility. The Supreme Court said the Siting Council acted within its jurisdiction in reviewing the distance of the plant from residential areas, a flood zone and other environmental matters. The decision "largely serves to support and validate how we conduct our work here," said Derek Phelps, executive director of the Siting Council.

A message was placed seeking comment from the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone.

The Connecticut Siting Council in 2004 granted a permit for bunkers and dry casks to store spent fuel at Millstone Power Station, but prohibited the transfer of spent fuel from other sources to Millstone. Millstone has already built 10 concrete bunkers to store the rods, spokesman Peter Hyde said. The rods will remain at the site until the federal government decides where to build a national repository, he said.

"We're obviously pleased the Supreme Court agreed with the Siting Council and upheld the decision," he said. "We're confident we can safely store the nuclear rods."

The Supreme Court also agreed with the lower court's ruling that the Siting Council is pre-empted by federal laws and regulations from considering radiological risks of nuclear storage and the related potential impact on the environment.


Utah State Board Rejects Import of Italian Nuclear Waste
SALT LAKE CITY - Mar 8, 2008 (The Associated Press)

Utah's Radiation Control Board will ask federal regulators to deny a request to allow Italian nuclear waste to be imported here for storage.

Utah-based EnergySolutions has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow 20,000 tons of Italian waste into the country for disposal. About 1,600 tons of waste would go to the company's Clive, Utah facility about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. The rest would be processed by the company's Bear Creek, Tenn., site.

In a letter approved unanimously Friday, the state board cites concern for maintaining storage capacity for domestic waste and questions the tact of a country that uses nuclear power, but sends its waste elsewhere.

"We believe that any country that has the technological capability of producing nuclear power within its borders should not seek to dispose of its waste outside them," says the letter. "Development of nuclear power should go hand in hand with the development of disposal options."

Lisa Roskelley, spokeswoman for Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, said the governor will likely draft a cover letter to accompany the radiation board letter, stating his full support of the board's position. Utah's Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson has also spoken against bringing the Italian waste to the state.

EnergySolutions officials insist the company has no intention of becoming the primary source of disposal for the world's nuclear waste. In a letter sent Feb. 21 to the radiation board, company CEO Steve Creamer said he believes it is "essential to maintain Clive's capacity principally for
domestic needs."

The NRC is taking public comment on the issue through June 10.
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here are some talking points on the issue from HEAL Utah


Southern Utah Developer Builds Zero-Energy Houses
- Mark Havnes The Salt Lake Tribune
Mar 10,2008 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News)

A Southern Utah developer is building zero-energy houses -- homes he believes will offset utility bills and give cash back to owners over the years.

Aaron Needham, with sponsorships from General Electric and JP Morgan Chase Bank, is building the houses in Ivins and Washington City, as well as in Midway. His company, Needham Homes and Development, has been building energy-efficient houses for two years in Cedar City. Recently, he had his renewable-energy-credit building program certified by an independent

"We now have documentation that will guarantee lower utility bills," Needham said. Kevin Emerson, with Utah Clean Energy, described the builder's concept as "unique and innovative."

Clean Energy is a 6-year-old, nonprofit that works with Utah residents and government agencies to educate and advocate for energy-efficient policies.

"[Needham] is definitely breaking new ground," said Emerson. "Other builders in Utah are building zero-energy houses, but nothing like [Needham's] model. "He is working with some impressive partners, especially Building America that gives him the measure of verification he needs."

Needham said the energy-efficient homes are not subject to negative forces currently influencing the real-estate market in states other than Utah. That, he said, makes them attractive to build. The homes range in price from $200,000 to $500,000.

"The reason people are not building homes now is because a lot of them [in markets elsewhere] are worth less the day you finish them than the day you started," Needham said. "Our homes are appreciating -- not depreciating."

Needham said owners of his homes can expect to see a reduction of 70 percent in utility bills. Such savings are achieved through construction methods that pay attention to sealing exterior doors and windows, installing special insulation and using energy-efficient appliances, furnaces and air conditioners.

The houses also use wind and solar power for generating electricity and heating. And they provide renewable-energy credits. A credit is equal to a single megawatt of electricity produced by the homeowner through solar panels or wind generator. The homeowner will be paid up to $500 a year by a program that will then broker the credits to offset the carbon footprint of another person or company. Other ways the homeowner will save are through federal and state tax credits, Needham said.

And when buying the house through JP Morgan Chase Bank -- Needham's preferred lender -- up to 9 percent of the home's sales price will go toward a reduced down payment, a lower interest rate and offset six months of the first year's mortgage payment.

Needham said while the concept of energy-efficient construction is not new, his claims can be quantified and verified according to independent research. That research was done by Consol, a Stockton, Calif., firm that manages the Building America program for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Abe Cubano, a research engineer for the company, said he has evaluated and authenticated Needham's efforts, saying they are in line with federal standards. He believes the green builder is the nation's first to bring different elements such as financing constructing, brokering renewable energy credits and appraising together in a single package.

"He's done all the legwork, and it's amazing what he has done," said Cubano "[Needham's] homes produce something. They create a residual income. No one else in the nation is doing this."

Cubano said Utah is a good place for such a program to lay its foundation because it does not have the bureaucratic hoops to jump through like California., pointing out that the Beehive State's housing market is healthier than other parts of the country and more conducive to Needham's innovative ideas.


Nuclear Reactors' Cost: $17 Billion
Mar 11, 2008 (The News & Observer)

Building two nuclear reactors in Florida would cost Progress Energy $17 billion, which would increase the bills of the company's customers in that state by an average of 3 percent to 4 percent a year for 10 years.

The cost estimates, to be filed with Florida regulators today, are an early indication of Progress' potential nuclear costs in North Carolina. The utility, based in Raleigh, is considering two new reactors at its Shearon Harris site in Wake County. The reactors proposed in Florida -- the Westinghouse AP1000 -- are the same models that Progress is planning at Shearon Harris.

The costs of building multibillion-dollar power plants are paid by utility customers through their monthly bills over several decades. Such costs have been shrouded in speculation as utilities, vendors and manufacturers sought to promote a resurgence in nuclear power while avoiding the negative repercussions of sticker shock.

Today's filing before the Florida Public Service Commission will be the subject of hearings in that state this year about the need for nuclear plants. It's one of the nation's first cost estimates for new reactors and is consistent with a recent appraisal from Florida Power & Light for two
Westinghouse units.

Progress officials promote nuclear energy as the cheapest option for meeting growing energy demand. Several years ago, the company was projecting a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion per reactor, but since then the cost of labor and materials has skyrocketed amid increasing global demand for energy.

Nuclear energy had stalled after the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, but the technology has gained new advocates because of concerns about global warming.

The operation of nuclear generators, unlike that of coal-burning power plants, does not produce carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for heating the planet. Supporters promote nuclear energy as a clean fuel, despite its lethal byproduct: radioactive nuclear waste.

Nuclear critics who advocate renewable energy and conservation programs are sure to seize on the newest estimates as evidence that nuclear costs are spiraling out of control.

During the last period of nuclear expansion three decades ago, critics say, utilities lowballed nuclear cost estimates only to revise them mid-construction. In the 1970s, for example, the construction of Shearon Harris was originally projected to cost $1.1 billion for four reactors, but the actual cost was $3.9 billion for one reactor. The other three reactors were canceled amid cost overruns and reduced demand forecasts.

Progress is expected to submit a more detailed cost estimate for the Florida nuclear plants in May. The company's nuclear cost estimates include financing, land acquisition, construction, labor and regulatory fees. Progress spokesman Rick Kimble warned against extrapolating costs in North Carolina from the Florida estimates. He noted that the utility has not signed a contract with Westinghouse for reactors for North Carolina and could continue negotiating for months.

Progress officials have said they would not reveal cost estimates for new reactors at Shearon Harris until the company negotiates a contract. Progress' Florida cost estimate includes $3 billion to build about 200 miles of transmission lines and substations in 10 counties, an expense not anticipated in North Carolina.

In this state, the new reactors would be placed at a site that was designed for four reactors. The Florida nuclear plants, however, would be built about seven miles from the company's Crystal River Nuclear Plant on 3,100 acres of former timberland that Progress bought for about $43 million last year.

The first of Progress' planned nuclear plants in Florida is expected to begin operation in 2016, with the second unit going online in 2017. In North Carolina, the first unit would begin operating between 2018 and 2020 if the company decides it can afford to build it. A final decision is at least a year away.

EDITORS NOTE: If one 1100-mW nuclear plant and infrastructure costs $8.5 billion, then the installed capacity cost is $7,727/kW. If such a plant operated with a 90% capacity factor and 20% of the gross generation was lost to meet the needs for the parasitic requirements of the facility's internal
pumps and such, and said facility was financed at a 9% interest rate for a 30 year period, then the amortization would result in a cost of about 12.0 cents/kWh. Adding to that the roughly 2.0 cents/kWh needed for the production costs means the busbar power cost is about 14.0 cents/kWh.

Accounting for the non-factored costs of transmission and distribution will be a roughly 2x multiple of the busbar cost, meaning that the delivered cost to the end consumer is roughly 25.0 cents/kWh. By logic, any conservation, efficiency or renewable technology placed on the customer's side of the meter that costs less than 25.0 cents/kWh should be deployed first, as they will be more "cost-effective" than buying the electron of nuclear generation.

While the use of the Shearson Harris site in NC will provide some common infrastructure, there will be a cost for adding the required upgrade to transmission lines and substations. Even if no infrastructure upgrades were required, the busbar cost at Harris would still be about 12.0 cents/kWh.


NRC Announces Opportunity To Request Hearing On License Renewal Application For Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant
- Mar 11, 2008 (The Associated Press)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the opportunity to request a hearing on an application to renew the operating license for the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Unit 1, for an additional 20 years.

Three Mile Island Unit 1 is a pressurized water reactor located 10
miles southeast of Harrisburg, Pa. The plant owner, AmerGen Energy Co., submitted the renewal application Jan. 8. The current operating license for Unit 1 expires April 19, 2014.

The NRC staff has determined that the application contains sufficient information for the agency to formally docket, or file, the application and begin its technical and environmental reviews. Docketing the application does not preclude requesting additional information as the reviews proceed, nor does it indicate whether the Commission will renew the license.

A notice of opportunity to request a hearing will be published soon in the Federal Register. The deadline for requesting a hearing is 60 days after publication of the notice. Petitions may be filed by anyone whose interest may be affected by the license renewal and who wishes to participate as a party in the proceeding. Background information regarding the hearing process was provided by NRC staff to members of the public during public information sessions conducted March 4 near the plant.

A request for a hearing and a petition for leave to intervene must be filed through the NRC's E-Filing system. Anyone wishing to file should contact the Office of the Secretary by e-mail at at least five days before the filing deadline to request a digital ID certificate and allow for the creation of an electronic docket.

The Three Mile Island license renewal application is posted on the NRC Web site at

A schedule for reviewing the application will be posted soon. License renewal reviews typically take 22 months with no hearing, or 30 months if a hearing is granted.

Information about the license renewal process can be found on the NRC Web site at


SC Utility Rebate Available For Solar Panels
- Mar 11, 2008 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - The Sun News, Myrtle Beach,S.C.)

Santee Cooper launched its Solar Homes Initiative on Monday, meaning homeowners can apply for up to a $12,000 rebate to install a solar panel. People can apply through April 10, and Santee Cooper will give 10 qualified homeowners a rebate. To qualify, homeowners must be Santee Cooper customers, have owned the free-standing property for at least a year and live in it.

They also must agree to get their power through the Green Energy Buy Backs Program -- where Santee Cooper buys excess green energy customers produce -- for at least five years.

Coupled with up to $5,500 in available federal and state tax credits, a homeowner could get as much as $17,500 for a 4-kilowatt solar panel and installation.


Renewable Energy Continues Rapid Global Growth in 2007
- Mar 12, 2008 (EERE Network News)

The global use of renewable energy sources continued its rapid growth in 2007, with 40 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity added throughout the world, according to a new report. That capacity growth, which includes large hydropower, brings the world's renewable energy generating capacity to more than a thousand gigawatts. Excluding large hydropower, renewable generating capacity grew by 33 gigawatts to a total of 240 gigawatts, a 16% annual growth rate. At 95 gigawatts, wind power is the largest of the newer renewable energy sources, while grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems increased by 53%, reaching 7.8 gigawatts.

Among other renewable energy sources, ethanol production reached 12 billion gallons, biodiesel production exceeded 2 billion gallons, and there are now enough solar hot water systems to produce 128 gigawatts of thermal energy. The United States now leads the world in new wind capacity added each year and in annual ethanol production, and it also features the largest installed capacities for geothermal and biomass energy power plants.

While the REN21 report estimates last year's investments in renewable energy at $71 billion, analysts at New Energy Finance have increased their estimate to $148.4 billion, more than double the REN21 estimate and a significant increase from New Energy Finance's previous estimate of $117.2 billion, which was released in January. The new figure includes transactions made near the end of the year but not disclosed until more recently, and it reflects a 60% increase over investments in 2006, according to New Energy Finance.


Report Places Even Odds on Hoover Dam Running Dry by 2017
- Mar 12, 2008 (EERE Network News)

A new study warns that the 2,080-megawatt Hoover Dam could have too little water to produce power within the next decade. The study by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography concludes that the growing demand for water in the West, combined with reduced runoff due to climate change, are causing a net deficit of nearly 1 million acre-feet of
water per year in the Colorado River system, which includes Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Lake Mead feeds the Hoover Dam, and the researchers estimate a 50% chance that Lake Mead could drop too low for power production by 2017. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Hoover Dam is one of the largest hydropower facilities in the nation, producing enough power to serve 1.3 million people in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

With recent droughts in the West, the Colorado River system is currently operating at only half of its capacity, and the researchers estimate that the system is already operating at a deficit. They find a 50% chance that Lake Mead could run completely dry by 2021 if the climate
changes as expected and if future water demand is not curtailed. The research paper has been accepted for publication in "Water Resources Research," a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).


Senate Advances Bill Calling for Vt. Yankee Inspection
By DAVE GRAM Associated Press Writer
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Mar 12, 2008 (The Associated Press)

The Vermont Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill calling for an independent inspection of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant before the state acts on its bid for a 20-year license extension.

The Senate voted 24-3 Wednesday on the bill. Final approval is expected Thursday.

The bill attempts to answer a call by critics for a top-to-bottom review of the 36-year-old Vernon reactor. A similar one helped lead to the shutdown of Maine Yankee a decade ago.

The Legislation comes as Vermont Yankee awaits final approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend its license for 20 years beyond its current 2012 expiration date. The Legislature and state Public Service Board also would have to approve such an extension.

Plant critics noted that the vote came on a day when Vermont Yankee was reported - by an NRC Web site - to have reduced to 65 percent power. Power reductions are often indicative of a problem at the plant, pointing to the need for a thorough inspection, they said.

"We think it's great that this vote should come on this particular day, when they've cut power by 35 percent," said Bob Stannard, a lobbyist for the anti-nuclear Citizens' Awareness Network.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Robert Williams said the power reduction was not due to a problem at the reactor. It was "a normal routine thing we do quarterly" in which fuel rods in the reactor core are rearranged "to ensure balanced power output in the reactor core," he said. He said the plant is expected to be back at full power by Thursday.


Matheson Moves to Block Foreign Nuclear Waste
By Thomas Burr
Mar 13, 2008 (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Posted: 6:56 PM- WASHINGTON - Rep. Jim Matheson and two colleagues want to hand the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the power to prohibit foreign nuclear waste from being dumped in the United States, a move that could block a proposed shipment from Italy to Utah.

Matheson, along with Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., say the measure, introduced into Congress today, would ban the importation of low-level radioactive waste from foreign countries unless the waste was generated in the United States or from U.S. military facility.

It's a direct broadside aimed at plans by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions to seek a license to import 20,000 tons of low-level nuclear waste from decommissioned nuclear reactors in Italy. Most of the waste would be processed in Tennessee, but 1,600 tons will end up at the company's facility in Tooele County, according to the EnergySolutions' license request.

Matheson says the legislation likely would throw out any chance of the Italian waste hitting Utah, because while EnergySolutions has applied for the license, it hasn't been approved.

"The license hasn't been granted yet, so I think that in terms of that specific application, until it's granted, nothing is grandfathered," Matheson said. But, he added, the goal of the measure is broader as well: to ensure that America doesn't end up as the recipient of everyone else's radioactive waste.

"We're about to enter a period where a number of nuclear power plants will be decommissioned in Europe," Matheson says. "When that happens you will have substantial volumes of low-level radioactive materials that will need to be disposed of. And since these countries in Europe have not identified any disposal option, my fear is they will all look to follow the path to the United States."

Currently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's regulations allow foreign countries to ship low-level radioactive waste to the United States if the recipient of the waste has a license to manage or dispose of it. The bipartisan group of congressmen says that's wrong.

"No other country in the world is accepting nuclear waste from other countries," Gordon said in a statement. "By doing so, the United States is putting itself in position to become the world's nuclear dumping ground."

EnergySolutions officials called the rationale for the bill baseless. "We believe that Congressman Gordon's legislation stripping the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its jurisdiction over an issue within its purview is unwise, unwarranted and unnecessary. The NRC has the scientific and technical expertise to make thoughtful decisions based on the facts," the company said in a statement.

NRC spokesman David McIntyre declined comment because agency officials had not see the legislation.

The anti-nuclear waste group, Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, applauded Matheson for pushing the legislation and called on Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to do what he can to block the potential shipment.

"Gov. Huntsman can slam the door shut for Utah by telling the NRC "No Grazie" to EnergySolutions' request," said Vanessa Pierce, HEAL's executive director. Huntsman said last week that he supported a letter sent by the state's Radiation Control Board to the NRC opposing the EnergySolutions' proposal.

The legislation, expected to be assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which all three sponsors sit, would allow the president to waive the importation ban if it would impede national security.

The NRC has received an unprecedented amount of interest during its public comment period on the potential to import the Italy waste. The agency has extended the time it will accept comment on the proposal to June 10.

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here are some talking points on the issue from HEAL Utah


Settlement Over Diablo Nuke Plant Generator Replacement
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Mar 13, 2008 (The Associated Press)

Environmentalists have settled a lawsuit challenging a decision to allow a steam generator replacement project at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network sued the California Coastal Commission in 2007 after the state agency issued a permit allowing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to go ahead with the project. The lawsuit claimed violations of various environmental laws.

The company is moving forward with the replacement project. According the environmental group, in the settlement reached this week the gas company agreed to a variety of programs including developing an osprey and bald eagle nesting program at Montana de Oro State Park.

Pacific spokeswoman Emily Christensen confirmed the settlement but couldn't immediately provide details.


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